Riverfront photos

Thursday, September 30, 2010
I have always said that the best photos are candid, unplanned ones. Whenever I make a point of setting aside some take to take pictures, they never turn out as well as I had hoped.

Last Friday, I took the girls to Riverfront Park, a park near our house which is beautifully situated on a river. I took my camera because that's what I do. Of course, I never expected to get any good shots.

But I did...


Tuesday's Tasty Treat: Pumpkin Bread

Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I love to bake, but let's face it. It can be time consuming. All the measuring, stirring, mixing, folding, and baking time aren't for the time-challenged.

When Autumn hits, I get the baking bug. There's something about the cooler weather and fall's crops that make me want to head to the kitchen and crank up the oven. I was in the mood yesterday, but I didn't have a whole lot of time. My daughters were begging for pumpkin bread. I didn't have most of the necessary ingredients, and I didn't have time to run to the store to buy them. I headed to the pantry, and look what I found.

It is so unlike me to use a box mix for baking. But the box mixes for quick breads are surprisingly good. It was easy to prepare, required 3 ingredients in addition to the mix, and the resulting bread was moist and delicious. So, in a pinch, this is good stuff.

If you've got the time to whip up a homemade batch, this recipe is one of my favorites.

Rub Shoulders with The Rockettes

Monday, September 27, 2010
Each Christmas we look forward to The Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. My sister-in-law began the tradition with her daughters many years ago, and we continue it today with our daughters. There have been some years that we've missed the show, and absence truly makes the heart grow fonder.

Photo credit: Radio City Music Hall

Imagine how happy my girls were when they learned that The Rockettes would be making a local appearance. Yes, if you are tall enough, you can rub shoulders with those famous leggy ladies.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall or on tour, this is your chance to see them up close and in person. Macy’s is inviting children and shoppers to receive dance instruction by The Rockettes so they too can learn some moves and discover what it takes to be a Rockette. There will be plenty of photo ops and each young dancer who participates will receive an “Honorary Rockette” certificate!

This is a FREE event at Macy’s Cherry Hill in the Philadelphia Metro area on Saturday, October 2nd at 2pm AND Macy’s Bridgewater in Bridgewater, NJ Saturday, October 16th at 2pm. Come join the fun!

If you need any additional information including photos, ticket discount info and tour dates, please visit http://bit.ly/dtXl1r.

A few of my favorite things: Skincare/Makeup

Thursday, September 23, 2010
I am a self-proclaimed makeup and skincare products hoarder. I love them all, cleansers, moisturizers, body lotions and creams, and any makeup, especially lipstick. I have, however, managed to curb my habit in a time when less is more. I am scaling back and buying only the absolute necessities.

Here are a few of my current faves:

Cleanser. It's the end of the day. It's late. You're tired. The absolute last thing you want to do is wash your face. But you've got to do. It's important to rid your skin of makeup, residue, and toxins. My current favorite cleanser is Olay Dual Action Cleanser and Pore Scrub. It's effective yet gentle on my skin. I love the way it smells.

Moisturizer. After cleansing, you MUST apply moisturizer. It's one of the best medicines for your skin. Over the years, I've tried countless moisturizers. Hundreds of them. There are plenty that I like, but my current favorite is philosophy's Hope In A Jar. It's light and doesn't leave that greasy feeling behind. I can thank my bloggy friend Becky who blogs at Farmgirl Paints for introducing me to this moisturizer. Hop over to her blog and take a look for yourself. She's got gorgeous skin. She's just beautiful all around, actually.

Sunscreen. This is a must. On a daily basis. Don't save it for the beach or pool only. Use sunblock any time you'll be exposing your skin to the harmful effects of the sun. Taking the kiddos for a stroll? Apply it. Stepping out of your office to grab lunch? Apply it. It will save your skin. As a rosacea sufferer, I've made sunscreen an integral part of my daily skin care regime. My favorite is Neutrogena's Age Shield Face Sunblock Lotion SPF 90. Yes. 90. And I wear a straw hat. It's just that important.

If there are only 3 products to use, they are cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. The are skin savers.

Of course, I can't stop at just 3, and here are few more of my current must-haves.

L'Oreal Studio Secrets Perfecting Base - This primer is applied after moisturizer but before foundation. It creates a smooth and even base by filling in fine lines. It's silky and feels great on your skin. I cannot live without this stuff.

M.A.C. Studio Fix Lash Mascara - In one word, superb. Fills in my sparse lashes perfectly and lengthens them too! What more could I want from a mascara? M.A.C. eye shadows are fabulous too. They are available in a fantastic array of colors to please anyone.

Last, but certainly not least, is my beloved lipstick. Gotta have it. Won't go anywhere without it. I have long been a fan of M.A.C. lipsticks and lip liners. But my current favorite is Benefit in the color Finders Keepers.

Are you a collector? Hoarder? Little bit of both? If so, what are some of your favorite things?

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way by any of the represented brands.

Wordless Wednesday: Playing with color

Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I've been having fun experimenting lately with my photographs. It's insanely addicting. Once I open and retouch a photo, it's extremely difficult to stop. I go from photo to photo. Cropping, adjusting exposure and colors. I get lost in these photos. Hours pass and suddenly I notice that the house is eerily quiet and everyone has long retired for the evening.

To see more fab photos, visit Wordless Wednesday and 5 Minutes for Mom.

BRŨGO™ Mug Review and Giveaway

Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Congratulations to Cynthia!
(Note: Since there was a duplicate entry, the final number of comments was 21.)

We all know how I love my White Chocolate Mochas from Starbucks. In fact, I'm almost certain that my habit pays the salary of my local barista.

When I get my coffee, I want to dive right in. The immediate sip is so gratifying. But those cardboard cups aren't conducive to instant gratification. You've got to wait until the coffee cools. The second I get that coffee in my hands, I want to drink it!

When I was first introduced to the BRŨGO™ Mug and its unique technology, I just knew I had to try it.

The BRŨGO™ Mug shown in color choice Spring

The BRŨGO™ Mug boasts a patented Temperature Control Chamber. The lid has three options: LOCK, TIP & COOL, and SIP.

LOCK seals the mug is perfect for transporting the beverage without spilling.
TIP & COOL gives you the full benefits of the temperature control chamber. Once the beverage in the mug has cooled to a temperature to allow drinking, you simply turn the dial to SIP and enjoy the beverage directly.

Other features of the BRŨGO™ Mug include:
  • 16 ounce capacity
  • Double wall insulation
  • 3-position drink mode selector
  • Stainless steel finish
  • Fits most vehicle cup holders
  • Ergonomic grip
  • Available in an array of stylish colors
The unique, and, by far, best feature of the BRŨGO™ Mug is its patented temperature control chamber. It truly offers a perfect sip of coffee each and every time.

There is no longer a need to blow on the beverage or add ice to it to cool it down. The mug allows immediate access to coffee or tea at the perfect temperature and at its peak freshness.

The color choices are bright and attractive.

Because of it's advanced technology, the BRŨGO™ Mug does require a bit of education in how to use it. After a few turns of the lid, it's easy to learn the different settings and acclimate yourself. It doesn't take long before you are filling and using.

BRŨGO™ is offering one lucky Pieces of a Mom reader a complimentary mug.
To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment stating what beverage with which you would fill your mug if you were the lucky winner. Please be sure to include your email address in the following format: {piecesofamom at gmail dot com}.
All entries must be submitted by September 30, 2010 at 11:59 EDT. One lucky winner will be chosen via random.org and once notified will have 48 hours to respond. Giveaway is open to residents of the United States (excluding Hawaii and Alaska).

For more information about the Brũgo™ Mug and its unique and patented technology, visit the Web site at www.brugomug.com.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary Brũgo™ mug for the purpose of facilitating this review. All opinions expressed herein are strictly mine. Other than a complimentary sample, I received no other compensation for this review. For more information on my Disclosure Policy, click here.

And so the illnesses begin...

Monday, September 20, 2010
Well, this weekend wasn't what I planned it to be.

I had plans. Big plans. I wanted to buy pumpkins, mums, and kale. I wanted to decorate for fall. I wanted to clean my entire house. OK, maybe that last one was really pushing it. But my intentions were good.

Instead, I nursed two little girls to health. When my children should be outside enjoying the last few gorgeous days of summer, they were inside, tucked in their beds with strep throat and croup.

And if it weren't bad enough that my Saturday was shot to pieces, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I was in the Emergency Room with Harper. After spending 5 hours in the ER, I just wanted to sleep all day on Sunday.

Are my kids the only ones who are sick after just 2 weeks of school? I can't take 10 months of this. Please tell me I'm not alone.

SITS Back to Blogging Challenge - Day 5 - Why I Blog

Friday, September 17, 2010
Today's challenge is to answer the question,  "Why do I blog?"

I can remember the first time I hit the "Publish" button. I was both nervous and excited and filled with anticipation. Would anyone come? Would they stay to read once they did? Would it matter to me?

I started my blog as a means of keeping faraway family and friends in the loop of our daily lives. I couldn't keep sending emails with 40 pictures attached to each message. Not only was it time consuming, but it was also ineffective. There was no possible way that the recipients were opening every picture.

As a result, a blog was born!

I studied Literature/English in college. Reading and writing are in my blood. They are my true passions. What better way to use my skills than to start a blog? I have always loved to write, but only from a purely creative perspective. A journalist I am not. Ask me to research and write about it, and I'm likely to refuse you. Ask me to write about my experiences, and I'm likely to hug you.

I never imagined that writing my blog would lead to fulfilling friendships and networking opportunities. I am completely surprised by the quality of people I have met through blogging. I have met so many talented women, creative women, inspiring women.

Blogging has also led to other writing opportunities for me. I'd never consider my blog to be a waste of my time.

One of the biggest benefits to blogging so far? All the old posts! Sometimes I'll take an hour or two to read through old posts. So often I had forgotten about something we did, a movie we saw, a relative who visited. It's always nice to be reminded.

Thanks to SITS and the generous sponsors of this blogging challenge, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances.

Wine of the Week - Highway 12 Sauvignon Blanc

Highway 12 Sauvignon Blanc

Wine of the Week is back! If you've missed previous posts, just click on the Wine of the Week badge to catch up.

With only one weekend remaining in summer, I thought it only appropriate to feature a white wine. Send off the summer by enjoying Highway 12's Sauvignon Blanc, a bright, clean, and crisp wine with flavors of green apple, melon, Meyer lemon and tropical fruit. If you think it sounds delish, wait until you taste it. Heaven in your mouth. Priced at about $14/bottle, it's heaven in your wallet, too.

Highway 12 Vineyards & Winery is located along the rolling hills of the coast of Sonoma, California and produces a number of different varieties of reds and whites. 

SITS Back to Blogging Challenge - Day 4 - Inspiring Women

Thursday, September 16, 2010
Today's challenge is to write about a woman who has inspired me. This required quite a bit of thinking on my part. Actually, it was more like deciding. I can think of quite a few inspirational women, but I wanted to highlight one who truly had an uphill battle, overcame unthinkable odds, and made a difference in the lives of those she knew as well as those she didn't.

In 2003, while we were visiting friends in Wayne, Pennsylvania for Halloween, we stopped by their neighbors' house to trick-or-treat. We popped in and out. Met Kelly and Sean Rooney and a few of their children.

It wasn't until last year, that I really understood who Kelly Rooney was and how important her legacy is. On July 11, 2006 Kelly lost her courageous, four-year battle with breast cancer, She was 43. During their 15 year marriage, Kelly and Sean became parents to Casey, Molly, Haley, Quinn and Jack, creating a dynamic and incredible family.

What I find most amazing about Kelly is that even during the most critical days of her intimate and personal battle with breast cancer, Kelly’s number one priority was not herself – but her children. Kelly was relentless in her pursuit of understanding how she could prevent her four daughters, Casey, Molly, Haley and Quinn, from ever facing the dreadful disease. I am most certain that I'd wallow in self-pity, trying to answer the question, "Why me?" But not Kelly. She fought. Hard.

After her death, the Kelly Rooney Foundation was formed to continue Kelly’s pursuit and to realize the dream of a generation of women fully empowered with the knowledge and ability to prevent breast cancer. She is still fighting and will continue to fight long after her battle with breast cancer ended.

This excerpt was taken directly from The Kelly Rooney Foundation Web site:
"Known for her outpouring of love as a mother and wife; her loyalty as a daughter, niece, cousin, sister or aunt; and her hospitality as a neighbor or friend, Kelly Rooney served an incredible role model for living life with charisma, joy, optimism, positive energy, generosity, humor, grace and most importantly, persistence and determination."

Although I had met Kelly only once and very briefly, I have heard our dear friends John and Rose talk about her. Their words kind and loving. She was a good person, plain and simple, who loved her family and friends with all of her heart. To be robbed of such a person seems criminal to me. To battle this disease for 4 years with courage, determination, and grace is truly inspiring. Four years is an incredibly long time. Four years of radiation and chemotherapy treatments and all the side effects. And all the while, her family remained her number one priority.

Kelly, Sean, and their children in happier times.

Sean with his children at The Kelly Rooney Foundation Fourth Annual Golf Outing and Auction.

Thanks to SITS and the generous sponsors of the B2B Challenge, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances.

Visit The Kelly Rooney Foundation Web site for more information, including upcoming events and support and contact information.

Bloggy Bootcamp Recap - Networking

Be sure to read my Bloggy Bootcamp Education Recap if you haven't already.

After a day chock full of mind-blowing speakers and inspiring presentations, it was time for some networking. All Bootcamp attendees were invited to attend a cocktail party sponsored by Virtua Woman. But we had a couple of hours to kill between the end of the education session and the start of the cocktail party.

I had the opportunity to socialize with some of my favorite bloggers and some new friends too. We sat on the veranda at the Hyatt Regency chatting about our respective backgrounds, families, and blog histories. Getting to know these women was, by far, one of the best aspects of Bloggy Bootcamp. Plus, it was a gorgeous evening in Philadelphia!

L. to r., Theta Mom, Figments of a Mom, Me, Running on Empty Mommy, Complicated Mama, Life Without Pink.

To finally meet these and many other bloggers IRL (in real life) was amazing. It makes online interactions that much more meaningful.
There was definitely no lack of conversation among this group!

We are already planning our next meet-up!

Photo credits: Life Without Pink

SITS Back to Blogging Challenge - Day 3

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The SITS girls are hosting a blogging challenging all week to help us get back into a routine of posting and commenting after a summer of slacking. To see today's challenge, visit SITS.

Many thanks to SITS and the generous sponsors of this contest, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances. If you play along, you could be the proud winner of these fine appliances, affectionately referred to as "Thelma" and "Louise"! Aren't they beauties? They'd look mighty fine in my laundry room.

Today's challenge is to highlight a post title that we are particularly proud of because it's witty, sentimental, etc. I have to say, this took a bit of research through the blog archives. Cob webs were flying everywhere, but I finally found one.

Title: Hello! My name is...
Date posted: January 13, 2010

It's a simple introduction. But it goes a long way. Yet so many people just don't introduce themselves in social situations. Why? Do they not care?

Yesterday, I was a volunteer at our church during Emma's religious education class. I was a hall monitor which basically means that I'm there to keep an eye on kids so that they don't become distracted while going to and from the bathroom. Oh, and I am also given some busy work to wile away the time. There are always 2 hall monitors, and prior to yesterday, I've always known the other volunteers. No need for introductions.

However, yesterday I didn't know the other woman. I waited about 10 minutes to see if she'd introduce herself. I like to do this. I know most people will not willingly introduce themselves. It really bothers me. I'm not there to make lifelong friends, but I would like to be able to refer to the other person by name should I need to do so. So, I introduced myself and in turn, forced her to do the same. She didn't seem happy about it. This isn't the first time I've experienced this sort of thing. I've volunteered in Emma's classroom where the exact same thing has happened...on several occasions. Unbelievable.

Is there something I'm missing??


I'd like to be able to report that since writing this post in January, people have changed. But they haven't. I experience this mostly at my daughter's school functions, either class room visits, PTO events, or some other school-related situation. It's just plain uncomfortable. It's simple, people. Just say it, "Hello, my name is..."!

Bloggy Bootcamp - Education Recap

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
How was my first official blogging conference? Fabulous! The SITS Bloggy Bootcamp did not disappoint...on so many levels.

There were several fantastic topics covered by equally fantastic speakers.

I learned everything I've always wanted to know about building and maintaining readership from Jill Smokler, a.k.a., Scary Mommy. This woman's readership will knock your socks off!

All things design were discussed by Cynthia Wheeler, a.k.a., Nap Warden. One of the many things I loved about Cynthia was that, during her presentation, she didn't focus solely on the design of her own (and quite lovely) blog. She highlighted at least 10 of her favorite blog designs. Love that she did that!

Next up was Laura Franklin, best known as Lolli from Better in Bulk. Laura has one of the best photography blogs. Hands Down. Her photos are amazing. Laura offered up some of her best photography tips, and I was grateful for them. As someone who has had absolutely no formal photography training, I was lapping up what Laura was dishing out. Plus, she's self-taught!

Here I am listening intently
Photo credit: SITS

What's a blogging conference in Philly without Cecily Kellogg? Cecily offered quality information on finding your voice and sticking to it. Cecily is a genuinely uninhibited blogger. She's authentic and remains true to herself and her story. I thoroughly appreciated Cecily's presentation as this is a topic with which I struggle. On days when I want to bitch and moan, I tend to second guess myself and my audience. Cecily's success is proof that staying true to yourself will bring you blog success.

I sat in on a presentation about PR. Since I've done several reviews and giveaways and I've been contacted more and more frequently to do this type of work, I wanted to get the low down. Julie Pron, Kelly Whalen, and Shannon Ott presented a plethora of information relating to creating a blog package for PR purposes, working with PR personnel, and monetizing your blog. As I move my blog forward in the world of PR, this information will be extremely helpful.

The Queen of SEO, Tara Gerner-Ziegmont helped us to learn all we need to know about search engine optimization. Tara provided us with 20 tips for improving the SEO of any blog. Some tips can be implemented immediately and others will require a bit of work on the author's part. But all tips are invaluable. I can't wait to get moving on implementing those.

Lastly, and certainly not least, Ted Rubin of OpenSky spoke about the benefits of bloggers engaging in a relationship with OpenSky. Ted presented quite a convincing argument for creating a relationship with OpenSky. Of course, it didn't hurt that Ted was incredibly extroverted and an all-around fun guy! For more information about OpenSky, visit their Web site at www.opensky.com

All of this bloggy goodness would not have been possible without the absolutely lovely and talented Tiffany Romero, the founder of SITS Bloggy Bootcamp. Tiffany excels at creating a warm and engaging environment for bloggers at all levels. The atmosphere is relaxed, and egos are checked at the door. If you think you're a better blogger than any other attendee, you may as well stay home for the day.

For more information on Bloggy Bootcamp including locations, visit their Web site, www.bloggybootcamp.com.

Be sure to check back tomorrow when I recap the networking aspect of Bloggy Bootcamp. You won't want to miss it!

SITS Back to Blogging Challenge - Day 2

Although I had every intention of jumping in on this blog carnival yesterday, I just couldn't get my act together to execute.

The girls over at SITS are hosting a Back to Blogging series of challenges this week that encourage us to get back into the habit of frequently posting and commenting now that summer has ended. This is just the sort of motivation I need to jump start my regular posting regime.

Here's today's challenge: To re-upload a post you wish more people had paid attention to…

Here's mine.

Post Date: Sunday, October 25, 2009
Title: Lessons learned

I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately. Going over the events of the past 29 months. Wondering why I've been chosen to endure 3 heartbreaking deaths in a 26 month period. Why was I dealt this hand of cards and more importantly, what am I to learn from this pain and grief?

Here's what I've learned:

1) Pain is personal. How we deal with it is an individual matter. Dealing with grief and recovering from loss is defined differently by all of us. We can't expect everyone to conform to our expectations of grief. It can't be rushed. You can't put a time frame on it, but you can't suppress it either. There is a necessity in grieving a loss.

2) People, with good intentions, try to lighten death and make us feel better with words. But there's nothing light about death. Saying "He or she is in a better place" is no comfort to me. I don't want them in a better place. I want them with me. Spending holidays, birthdays, vacations with me. Watching my daughters grow, attending preschool, elementary, high school and college graduations.

3) How you choose to deal with pain can define the rest of your life. If given lemons, would you make lemonade or let the lemons rot? You can wallow in grief and self-pity or you can confront them head on and not allow them to take control of your livelihood. Believe me, this isn't an easy choice for a griever. In most cases, self-pity is the easier path. It's the one that, at that very moment, makes us feel good. But long term it's the worst decision we can make for ourselves. It can have devastating effects.

The hardest decisions and choices to make are probably the right ones.

4) Strength and character are a direct result of pain and adversity. Isn't there a saying, "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger?" It's so true.

Nothing can ease grief. But the manner in which we approach it can make the difference between surviving it and being swallowed by it. If my advice and the lessons I've learned can help just one person, I've accomplished my goal for this re-post.

Not only does this challenge help you get back into a posting and commenting routine, but it will also enter you into a drawing to win a Turquoise Sky Washer and Dryer from Electrolux. This event is sponsored by SITS, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances.

Bye bye, baby

Monday, September 13, 2010
Today Harper started her second and final year of preschool. Next stop: Kindergarten.

I'm not ready for this.

I'm not ready to let my baby go. Once they start school, the years just fly by. Right before your very eyes, which, by the way, mine are starting to tear up right now.

I never had this emotional problem with Emma. I was always excited for Emma and all the possibilities that awaited her. With Harper, I've got a completely different attitude. She's my baby. In my eyes and in my heart, she'll always be just that, and I'm not ready to face the fact that she's growing out of the baby stage. :(

I am the youngest of four girls, and I will never forget my mother introducing me to people as "my baby". I would always say to her, "I'm not a baby! I'm 10. How can I be a baby?" Only now, do I truly appreciate how my mother was endearingly referring to me as her baby.

Here's my baby on her first day of school. It was hard to stop hugging her this morning.

There were no tears (from either of us) at the drop-off. She walked right into her classroom and sat down. I was proud of her. She wasn't clinging to my leg, looking up at me with pouty, puppy dog eyes.

It is our job as parents to prepare our children for a life independent of us. I get that. But until that time comes, I will savor every moment that she relies on me, kisses me, hugs me, says she loves me, and yes, clings to my leg and looks up at me with pouty puppy dog eyes.

Heading to Bloggy Bootcamp

Friday, September 10, 2010
Tomorrow I'll be heading to Philly for my first official blog conference, Bloggy Bootcamp. Yes, I've been to various other blogger events where I've met and mingled. But this is a first for me. And I have to admit that I am filled with excitement and trepidation.

I am anxious to meet so many people with whom I have exchanged blog comments, Facebook comments and tweets. However, walking into a room full of virtual unknowns is, quite frankly, frightening. I spent countless years in the corporate world walking into rooms full of people I had never met or even exchanged emails or phone calls. I was never nervous. Never worried. But this is different. I want to connect with these women. I want to have engaging conversations with them, learn from them, be inspired by them. I can't say that about my former corporate world clients. So, I feel pressure. Pressure to fit in. Pressure to impress. Pressure to know all there is to know about social media.

Then last night amid my anxiety, Erica from Mommy's Still Fabulous posted this, and I was grateful to read it. I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. Although I am still nervous, my nervousness is playing back seat to my excitement.

I'm ready to meet, mingle, learn, and have fun!

Good for the soul

Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I just returned from a week long vacation with my sisters, our respective children, and some close female friends, who are practically sisters to me. There is nothing like a week with the girls to nourish your soul. It was a week filled with girl-talk, soul searching, eating, bucket list-making, confessing, sharing, bonding, and more eating.

We've been doing this for 4 years now. We head to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware every August for a week. It's like a miniature family reunion of sorts. Two of my 3 sisters fly in from Florida and Arizona for the week. A close family friend also comes from Florida. The rest of us travel from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

My sisters and I grew up going to Rehoboth Beach each summer. I have fond memories of our trips there with our parents. It was always at the end of August, and it was always the entire family. And it was always tons of fun. We stopped going in the mid-80's when my parents separated. In 2007, my niece decided to surprise the family with a trip to Rehoboth. Imagine our joy and surprise. After all those years, we were reviving our Rehoboth trips.

In the summer of 2007, a mere month before our trip, my mother passed away. We were heart broken but knew that a family vacation would do us good. However, the fact that my mother wasn't present hung over us like a big, dark cloud. In July 2008, my father passed away 3 weeks prior to our trip. It seemed as if our trips were doomed. Finally, last summer the curse was broken.

The vacations have evolved. We've been in 3 different houses in 4 years. We've experienced some attrition. There has been divorce, separation, break ups, and new relationships. The little kids have grown physically. The adults have grown emotionally. But one thing has remained constant: the vacation itself. We wouldn't miss it for anything.

This year everyone gathered in New Jersey on the Friday prior to our departure. On Saturday, we met at my house and drove to Cape May, New Jersey to catch a ferry to Delaware.
Everyone gathered so that I could take a picture. Don't you love the feeling of a full vacation in front of you? It's obvious how excited everyone was to kick off the week.

What's a ferry ride without a little clowing around?

The weather was fabulous. We enjoyed plenty of time on the beach, but not in the water. The riptides were fierce. We learned quickly on our first day that we were risking our lives going in any deeper than our knees.

There was plenty of digging, burying, and posing...

To stay cool, we tried a water park for a day.

The weather was amazing...until Hurricane Earl came to town. Cloudy, misty morning. So I took pictures, and we went shopping.

Looking for washed up treasures...

Keeping a watchful eye on Earl...

By later that afternoon, Earl had moved up the eastern seaboard. The sun occasionally peeked through the clouds, and we enjoyed one final evening in Rehoboth Beach. As is tradition, we devoured our last dinner at Grotto Pizza.

And now the countdown begins for next year's week in Rehoboth!